What is news?

What is news?

While this site also features commentary, interviews, and an occasional review, well over half of the 3,505 stories we have posted are news. So it’s rather important to understand what is and isn’t news.

A couple of elements make something “news.” News is recent, relevant to the genre, and, usually, unexpected. 

This element of the unexpected is the most misunderstood element of newsworthiness. There’s a classic saying in newspaper circles: “Dog bites man isn’t news. Man bites dog is.” Applying this to our genre:

  • If the Booth Brothers going out for their usual weekend of concerts, and their members are Michael Booth, Ronnie Booth, and Jim Brady, it’s not news. It’s expected. But if one of the members were different, it would be news.
  • If David Phelps gets approximately thirty-two standing ovations at the next Gaither Vocal Band concert, it’s not news. It’s expected. If he’s ill and cannot sing that night, it would be news.
  • If Tribute Quartet’s bus makes it through the weekend safely, it’s not news. It’s expected. If it burns to the ground, that would be news.

Yet the other day, it struck me that the single most newsworthy thing that ever happens in this genre is something that might strike us as the most expected and least newsworthy.

You see, Southern Gospel is an evangelistic genre of music. Every weekend, several hundred national groups and several thousand local groups are performing concerts and presenting the Gospel. Every weekend, hundreds or thousands of people are coming to saving faith in Christ. From the vantage point of eternity, it’s not that big of a deal if Adam Crabb or David Ragan goes from sharing the Gospel in one group to sharing the Gospel in another group. But sinners coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ is a very big deal.

That, after all, is the most unexpected thing that ever happens in this world. Because Adam and Eve sinned, and because we are their descendants, we are born sinners. That’s normal. The unusual is when God steps into eternity as one of us, lives a sinless life, atones for our sins, and makes a peace with God that we could never make on our own.

The normal is that we are a fast track to Hell. That’s how every human story begins.. The unusual is when God steps into our story and re-writes the ending.

That’s why the good news is the most important news of all.

One closing thought: Stories of temporal significance have their place. Let’s just keep them in perspective.

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13 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Great post, and one of my favorite Squire Parsons songs (though it was written by Gordon Jensen)!

  2. I absolutely love your take on “news”! Thank you. 🙂

  3. So true, Daniel…well said!

  4. Daniel, your post on “What is News?” is a great reminder for us…..and I think the most important post that you have given us. As much as I love, love, love Southern Gospel, I have to be reminded sometimes what it is all about. Thank you for that blessed reminder.

    • Thank you! It’s certainly one of the most important I’ve ever written.

  5. Very good post today, Daniel. I agree with the criteria you use for “What is news?”, and think this is how I view it as well. We read your posts, to find out personnel changes, new projects, other interesting things you find out and share with us. Keep up the good work. I expect my “enlightenment in the Lord” to come from worship in my local church, mostly. But I definitely feel inspired many times when attending a SG concert!!

  6. Great post today, Daniel! We all need reminded now and then that none of this is about us and/or how much glory, applause, or popularity we can achieve, how many CDs we can sell, where our songs end up on the charts, how many people attend our concerts, etc…..it is all about HIM, what we can do for Him, and how many souls we can encourage and point to His saving grace. The value of one soul cannot be measured. May God have His perfect will and way in all of us, and may everything we do in this life be motivated by a sincere desire to uplift and glorify HIM…not ourselves.

    • Miss Cheryl, you speak so wonderfully here — I am so very impressed and a little envious — I wish I could put
      words together in such a loving and impressive way. And Daniel, you did a mighty fine job yourself. Hats off
      to everyone speaking here today. I just love being around God-loving folk. So blessed to be here.

  7. One correction Daniel. Tribute’s bus making it a whole weekend would be very unusual!! : ). Great post Daniel.

  8. I have NEVER seen David Phelps get more than 27 standing O’s!

  9. Thanks so much for your article. It is speaks to the heart of what southern gospel is all about.

  10. Great post and well written…as usual!

  11. Thanks for the kind words, everyone! Pat and Michael, your comments are absolutely hilarious. 🙂